Anthony van Dyck Painting Belongs to Bankrupt British Socialite, UK Judge Rules

A UK judge has ruled that a prized Anthony van Dyck painting will not be exempt from contentious bankruptcy proceedings.

The decision of the high court ends the legal row between the bankrupt British socialite James Stunt, his father Geoffrey Stunt, and the trustees of James’s bankruptcy, who had been pursuing the van Dyck painting, titled The Cheeke Sisters.

Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.

Per the Guardian, at the trial in London earlier this month, legal representation for the trustees claimed that James was the sole owner of the painting, making it part of the bankruptcy estate. James and Geoffrey, however, claimed that the latter had purchased the artwork in 2013 for £600,000, in a bid to save it from being deemed collateral.

Their arguments did not sway insolvency and companies court judge Clive Jones, who in his Friday ruling said the painting will be classified as the sole property of James.

He said, as quoted by the Guardian: “In my judgment on the balance of probability, Mr James Stunt was the contracting buyer. He did not hold the beneficial interest on trust for his father. The fact that Mr. Geoffrey Stunt paid by check was taken into consideration when reaching that conclusion. The painting forms part of the bankruptcy estate.”

James Stunt was married to Petra Ecclestone, the daughter of the former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone. The couple divorced in 2017, and Stunt was declared bankrupt in June 2019.

Joseph Curl KC, representing the trustees, argued that it was James who purchased the painting, though his father later declared ownership. Curl called this a “significant injustice” to the trustees and told the court that the seller of the painting believed James Stunt “became and was always intended to be the owner of the painting.”

The Cheeke Sisters, painted in 1640, is one of a few known double portraits painted by van Dyck. It is now valued up to £4 million (about $5 million).

Arguing his side, James said that despite expressing “interest” in the painting, he declined to make the purchase as he was “rather saturated by Van Dycks at the time,” having amassed some 40 works by the artists. The deal to acquire The Cheeke Sisters was instead “fully negotiated” by Geoffrey, James said.

The judge said that the pair had failed to prove that the painting was not bought for James. The money was drawn from Geoffrey’s bank account, he added, but James had previously used his father’s bank card for “very substantial sums.”

Jones added: “The fact that he [Geoffrey] made loans would not mean this could not be a personal investment but the point is that he simply has not advanced a case to rebut the presumption by addressing any of these matters.”


No votes yet.
Please wait...